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Mexico 31, Us 17, Rhonda Lee 10, Taylor 9, U.s. 9, Chicago 7, New York 6, Amy Goodman 5, Newtown 5, U.n. 5, Juan Gonzalez 4, America 4, Israel 4, Syria 4, Ubs 4, Ktbs 3, Arkansas 3, Shreveport 3, Benghazi 3, Louisiana 3,
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  LINKTV    Democracy Now    News/Business. Independent global news hour featuring news  
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    December 20, 2012
    8:00 - 9:00am PST  

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12/20/12 12/20/12 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" >> in a single gun law cannot solve all of these problems. we're going to have to look at mental health issues, look at schools. there'll be a whole range of things that joe's group looks at. >> as president, bows new action on gun control, we look at the end violence from newtown, connecticut to the streets of chicago, were nearly 500 people have been murdered this year. we will speak with goldie taylor. both her dad and brother were murdered.
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for years he owned a gun. on monday, she give it up. rhonda lee has been fired for defending her short, natural hairstyle on facebook. to the bribery aisle. how walmart got its way in mexico. >> and mexico, and a lever to tell a bribery and one of the world's largest corporations -- walmart. >> an ever imagined i was opposing such a super power. >> in april, the new york times revealed how wal-mart's leaders hushed up evidence of widespread bribery by the largest foreign subsidiary. now the times examines the relentless campaign of bribes behind wal-mart's most controversial store in mexico, in the data supermarket built in the shadow of a revered cultural landmark, the ancient pyramids of teotihuacán. >> one in five walmart stores are in mexico. walmart is mexico's largest private employer. we will speak with pulitzer prize winning journalist david
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barstow of "the new york times square and all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. six more victims of the newtown massacre were laid to rest on wednesday, four children, a teacher and principal of their school. the teacher, 27-year-old victoria soto was credited with saving half of her classroom by hiding the children in a closet and then telling shooter, adam lanza, there were in a different area of the school. the principal, 47-year-old dawn hochsprung, was reportedly shot dead after lunging at lanza in an effort to stop the shooting. six more funerals are being held today. at the white house, president obama formally announced the appointment of joe biden to form a new white house-led effort to reform the gun control policies. >> i have asked the vice president to lead an effort that includes members of my cabinet
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and outside organizations to come up with a set of car proposals no later than january , up with a congress that proposals delivered in january. this is not something where folks will be stepping the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside. this is a team that has a very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now. >> more on the newtown massacre and gun control and violence after the headlines. talks on averting the so-called fiscal cliff have hit a wall with both president obama and house speaker john boehner rejecting the other's latest proposals. at the white house, obama told reporters he thinks republicans continue to hold a personal grudge against him, opposing his plans "just for the heck of a." obama went on to promise a veto of the latest republican plan to begin taxing households making
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over 100 -- picking over $1 million rather the the $400,000 minimum proposed by the white house. he also rejected any effort to tie the fiscal cliff talks with the desolate as republicans did last year. >> i will not negotiate around the debt ceiling we're not going to play the same game we saw happen in 2011. which was hugely destructive. if you go to wall street, including talking to a whole bunch of folks has been a lot of money trying to beat me, they say it would be disastrous for us to use the debt ceiling as a cudgel to try to win political points on capitol hill. so we're not going to do that because the justice department has formally unveiled its $1.5 billion settlement with the swiss banking giant ubs for the company's role in the manipulation of the london interbank offered rate, or libor, which provides the basis rates on trillions of
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dollars in transactions across the globe. on wednesday, the assistant attorney general said ubs had played a key part in the reckless attempt to manipulate rates for profit. >> the banks conduct was simply astonishing. hundreds of trillions of dollars, credit card debt, student loans, financial derivatives and other financial products worldwide, are tied to libor. which serves as the premier benchmark for short-term interest rates. in short, the global marketplace depends upon all of us relying on an accurate libor. yet ubs, like barclays before it, sought repeatedly to fix libor for its own ends. in this case, so ubs traders could maximize profit on their trading positions, and so the bank would not appear to be
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vulnerable to the public during the financial crisis. >> according to transcripts released by prosecutors, ubs traders openly bragged about their prowess at rate manipulation and the financial benefits it brought. in one online chat in 2009, a key ringleader in the case was told, "think of me when you're on your yacht in monica." in passing it, ubs avoids criminal prosecution as well as potentially jeopardize and its parent company's charter. a military court has ruled u.s. staff sergeant robert bales will face a court-martial for allegedly slaughtering 16 afghan civilians, including nine children, in march. military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty while defense attorneys have argued that out all of these, drug use and post- traumatic stress disorder may have played a key role in filling his actions. on wednesday, bales attorney john henry brown accused military leadership of responsibility for sending bales to war.
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>> they should take responsibility for sending someone to high combat area who they knew had ptsd. he is disappointed, but he understands the gravity of the situation. he is working with all of us to try to avoid the first military execution in 50 years. >> bales pre-trial hearing included video testimony from afghans who survived the massacre, including several children who recalled watching their loved ones murdered. no date has been set for the trial. the united nations has issued a new appeal for $1.5 billion to aid those displaced by the fighting since syria. the u.n. says critical assistance is dated for those inside syria as well as the refugees who fled to jordan, iraq, lebanon, turkey and the to.
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>> the violence in syria is raging across the country and there are really no more safe areas where people can fully and find safety as most parts of the country have now become engulfed in violence, including in damascus. >> the combination of prolonged violence, the scale and scope of destruction, the winter that is already here has just intensified the urgency to scallop response. >> the u.n. says its latest appeal for syria marks its largest short-term humanitarian appeal ever. the u.n. now warns the number of syrian refugees will likely double to more than 1 million in the next six months. the obama administration has blocked a u.n. security council resolution condemning israel's
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latest expansion of settlements in the occupied west bank. israel has announced the construction of thousands of new settlement homes following last month's historic recognition of palestine as a nonmember observer state by the u.n. the white house publicly has criticized israel but refused to take punitive action. on wednesday, each member of the and security council, except the u.s., issued statements condemning the settlement expansion after the has refused to accept a binding resolution. and is in of the news conference, ban ki-moon said israel is undermining any remote chance of middle east peace. >> [indiscernible] very fragile peace process. you have seen my statement in the past, the times i have been condemning this illegal settlement. this is clearly a violation of international law.
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it is a violation guidelines and upsetting the peace process. >> the state department's head of security has resigned and three other officials have been dismissed in the wake of an inquiry's findings on the september 11 attack on the u.s. mission in benghazi that killed u.s. ambassador christopher stevens and three other americans. an independent panel probing the incident found -- panel vice chair admiral mike mullen unveiled the report's conclusions wednesday. >> the board found the attacks in benghazi, libya, were security related. responsibility for the loss of life, the injuries and damage to u.s. facilities rests completely and solely with the terrorists who conducted the attacks.
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that does not mean there are not lessons to be learned. the board found the security posture of the special mission compound was inadequate for the threat environment in benghazi and in fact, grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place that night. >> among the issues cited in the report is the high turnover rate of your security staff, faulty security equipment, and the use of unreliable local militias. the report found certain senior state department officials -- they didn't recommend disciplinary action against any individuals. secretary of state hillary clinton has accepted all 29 of the panel's recommendations. dozens of protesters turned out of the new jersey port to picket a container ship from bangladesh carrying goods for the retail giant walmart. the demonstration was after the factory fire in bangladesh that killed more than 110 workers. the factory have been used to
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make walmart apparel and the company allegedly played a role in blocking the improvement of safety conditions there. homeland security and port police blocked the demonstrators from approaching the ship as it unloaded its cargo. the action came as the bangladeshi government recommended criminal charges against the tazreen factory's owner for "unpardonable negligence >> leading up to the fire coming up, we will look at the situation in mexico with david barstow. a new study is predicting a current trends hold fatalities caused by guns in the u.s. will likely exceed those caused by traffic incidents for the first time by 2015. according to bloomberg news, while motor vehicle deaths dropped 22% from 2005 to 2010, firearm deaths are now on the rise from a low point in 2000. based on a 10-year average trend, gun deaths will jump to almost 33,0002015, while auto
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deaths will drop to 32,003 had experts attribute the shift to public policy, including stricter vehicle standards restrictions on young drivers and a number of new safety laws. those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. funerals continue in newtown, connecticut after friday's shooting rampage that left 20 students and six staff members dead at the sandy hook elementary school. for more children were laid to rest wednesday, as well as the principle of the school, dawn hochsprung, and teacher victoria soto. soto died while shielding her students from gunfire. she was remembered by a friend after her memorial service. >> she was one of the most beautiful people, like the release super popular person but she was friendly with everyone. she did not have a mean bone in
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her body. she was always smiling and laughing. you could hear her down the hallway. she was a great person. this is a tragic loss. we were going to have our 10- year school reunion. i was looking forward to seeing her and saying everyone again. quite the damper on things. >> meanwhile, president obama announced wednesday he would appoint a new white house-led effort chaired by vice president joe biden to reform gun control policies, which he would outline in his annual state of the union address next month. >> the fact that we cannot prevent every act of violence does not mean we cannot steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence. that is why i have asked the vice president to lead an effort that includes members of my cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no
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later than january, proposals i then intend to push without delay. this is not some washington commission. this is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside. this is a team that has a very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now. >> president obama's refer to the ongoing toll from gun violence around the country since friday's attack. >> since friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in memphis, leaving four children without their mother. two officers were killed outside a grocery store in topeka. a woman was shot and killed inside a las vegas casino. three people were shot inside in alabama hospital. a 4-year-old was caught in a drive by in missouri.
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taken off life-support just yesterday. each one of these americans was a victim of everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 americans every year. violence that we cannot accept as routine. >> to talk more about the factors leading to gun violence from newtown, connecticut to the streets of cities like chicago, where the homicide rate spiked earlier this year -- more than 500 gun murders in the past year, and behind closed doors in cases of domestic violence, we're joined by goldie taylor. she lost both her brother and father to gun violence. she is an msnbc contributor and managing editor of the goldie taylor project lead she recently wrote a piece titled, "after my father and brother were murdered, owning a gun made me feel secure. now it's time to give it up." and she did just that on monday. goldie taylor, welcome to "democracy now!" let's go back. how you ended up getting your gun. tell us your life story.
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>> i grew up with guns. it was a part of our life. we grew up in east st. louis. having a gun was part of the family security along with having burglar bars and those kinds of things. when my father was murdered in 1973, my mother immediately bought a gun and kept it in the house for all of our lives. my brother was murdered in a similar fashion about 20 years later. it really took the family by storm. at that time, i bought my own gun. i did not want my sons to live the fate or end and the fate my father and brother had. i did what i thought i needed to do to protect. i had been a former marine, so i had weapons training. my stepfather had been a detective sergeant in the east st. louis police department. it was natural to me that a weapon in the house. but over the years, i have come to understand that having a privately owned, even though
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legal, weapon in your home, you are more likely to hurt yourself or someone that you care about them you are to hurt someone who is trying to hurt you from the outside. so those are the real statistics. but we have a real dilemma. my father and brother were murdered with illegal guns. this country is awash in them. the black market is inundated from los angeles to new york, chicago, atlanta or young men of color are using these guns on each other. as a consequence, also hurting children surrounding them. the university of chicago says one in five children who are hit by gunfire or not the intended target. there was a little girl in chicago on her mother's lap having her hair combed one warm evening in chicago. she was shot by a stray bullet and that is the tragedy in this country. something about new town really
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brings this home for many people who are impacted by violence on a daily basis. by turning my gun in, and i have watched and listened to others do so -- some of these cities have had record buyback programs and last 72 to 96 hours, and i'm proud of that. i am glad we're going to have a conversation about gun-control, finally, about mental health and access to it. i am really glad we're going to have, i believe, a conversation holistic we about just are violent culture in general. it is in our popular culture and popular media. >> i want to ask you particularly about the culture of the country. as you say, the illegal gun problem is a bigger problem in the inner city, but clearly in the suburbs of america, in the heartland of america, many folks with illegal guns, also sometimes engage in some of these or many of these violent acts.
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we're having a conversation for those turning their guns in, there is a section of the american people who are desperately clinging to this idea of their right to continue to have guns, even assault weapons. in the connecticut case, the mother watrained her children ad the use of guns. many americans do that. could you talk a little more about the culture of violence in america from your perspective? >> i believe in the second amendment, but as the president said, there is an awfully large gap between having the right to bear arms and then being able to own an assault rifle. i think there are certain kinds of weaponry that civilians simply should not have access to. there are certain kinds of ammunition that civilians should not have access to. i don't know why a civilian
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would need a hollow point bullet. that is something we ought to be able to regulate severely. i do believe people ought to be held have a shotgun if you're living in rural america for home protection if you choose to do that. it is your right. i don't happen to want to choose a for myself anymore. the idea that we as americans have a right to assault rifles and a right to have armor piercing bullets, i think that is simply a fallacy. i think the supreme court has ruled the individual right to bear arms for home self protection is something that is settled law for them. but what is widely open, you know, we regulate things like sudafed. i cannot purchase but so much of it and i have to go to my pharmacist -- i cannot buy it off the shelf anymore. why is it i think it online and order a bushmaster or beretta or
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mine mm -- .9 glock. 40% of the guns in this country are bought without a pro. background checks. there are some loopholes in our gun law and have to close them. >> we're talking to goldie taylor. when we come back, i want to ask you buy your own personal experiences with domestic violence and guns and let's talk about the inner cities, what deaths count and what don't. the horror we see in newtown, should it be a model for how the media covers all murders in this country? stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> marvin gaye, shot dead by his
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father with a gun that martin had given him as a gift. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. our guest is goldie taylor, managing editor of the goldie taylor project where she writes about contemporary, social and political issues. can you tell us your own story about the linkage of domestic violence and guns? >> sure. here in atlanta, i guess i have lived here 27 years now, during our first year here in atlanta, i met him i thought was the most charming man in the world. we moved in to gather, started college, a started to build a life within. not long after that is when the abuse began. he began to isolate me from my friends and family. he began to be little every single thing i did. then it became physically abusive.
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i felt trapped, even though my mother lived less than 10 miles away. i was afraid to tell her what was happening because for so many young women, there is an unfortunate culture of silence that sort of places they don't around what is happening in some of these homes. i remember a relative telling us when we were younger that what happens between that man and that woman is between batman and that woman. it is probably looking backed, the most unfortunate thing i've ever heard. it ended for me that i was stabbed in the back. there was a horrific beating where i was stomped and kicked, choked until i blacked out. i ran. i took an opportunity to run. i knew if i did not run, i was going to die that night. there is a scar on my left shoulder today from where he took a paring knife from the
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kitchen and caught me in the shoulder just as they broke through the door. he did not serve any jail time but it was broken down to a misdemeanor and later dismissed. i look back on that today and i and a stand there have been new laws on the books since that happened, including -- it is a little bit easier today to get a restraining order the navy is used to be. i am grateful for all of that, but what we have got to see is grass-roots action around providing women safe haven, and then providing counseling and therapy for the men involved. not only punishment, but treatment. an abuser will abuse again. hurt people hurt other people. i wrote about my story because there is a young woman in the
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news i kept hearing about the never heard her name. it was kasandra perkins. she was the girlfriend and mother of child of john belter. awoke to find he had shot her nine times and killed himself. relatives and friends recount the relationship was, as they said, troublesome. the nfl team had engaged the couple in counseling. i believe a lot of people knew it was coming. that one day he would kill her. and no one -- no one did a thing. i told my story because kassie and other young women like her are not here to tell theirs. three women every day in this country are killed in domestic violence situations, whether it is a knife, a beating, or a gun. all too often the gun makes it too easy.
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if there had been a gun involved in my situation, i am certain i would not be here today. >> goldie taylor, if you are former military as well. our country of is the has been involved in some in the military actions -- our country has been involved in so many military actions. how the military trains people in terms of weaponry and the implications after they get out of the military? >> one is the weapons train we receive, but also the care we do not receive when we come home. the level of ptsd among both the men and women who see action on the frontlines and those who don't is really at a level we have not seen in a very long time because we have engage ourselves in so many wars on so many friends. but when we come home, the treatment, the care that is needed, simply is not there.
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our be a system is largely broken. i don't know if he spent much time in a v.a. hospital, but it is a tough place to get through , to actually receive care. i think you get better care one of your county hospitals. i think it is to springs, one is the weapons training, but also coming home to civilian life and making that transition is not always as easy for some of us as amazing. >> finally, the violence in urban areas, goldie. how we cover violence in a place like newtown, this horrific massacre that has taken place, the worst massacre in an elementary school in this country's history, the worst school killing after virginia tech, and how we cover the constant violence in the inner cities like chicago, this figure
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of roughly 500 people killed in the last year, one quarter of them children under 18, and all of those cases, gun deaths. >> there is something very horrific about new town, that there were 20 children, six adults -- seven adults including his mother, because i include her even though she trained person to shoot any access to those guns, she was shot in her sleep. i think there's something horrific about that to be said aside, but the other 30,000 plus deaths in this country to gun violence, the way they are covered by media, the way they're investigated, the level to which they're prosecuted, the convictions and even the level of sentencing, all of those things are never determined by the race of the shooter, but as i found, but the race of the
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victim. and so you have african-american children, hispanic children here were i sit today, who are dying of gun violence. no one is talking about it. it is because as americans, we feel it is isolated or contained to certain undesirable communities, and if we just keep away from us, then it won't impact us. you see a flash of it on the nightly news or on a regular program in the morning. we learned about my father's death on a radio program. but to hear, to see the national coverage it has to be random and it has to be somebody who looks like us. i always said when the "that could happen to me" syndrome kicks in, that is when there is coverage, investigation and prosecution. that is when you see heavier
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sentences. i'm writing a piece now that is tentatively called "the color of light." sweet plays differing values on different lives according to race, gender, social, economic status and all of that. >> goldie taylor, thank you for being with us, msnbc contributor and managing editor of the goldie taylor project where she writes about contemporary social and political issues. she's speaking to us from atlanta at. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> just yesterday, my daughters came into the house and said, "data, how come i don't have good hair?" >> if you have good hair, you're pretty or better than. >> the latter, the brighter, the better. >> look at my ring. still there.
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relaxer is are the chemical that will take a black woman's hair from this and change it into this. >> it is kind of like a torture session. >> can you tell us how dangerous it is? >> it can burn through your skin. >> there was a clip of the 2009 documentary "could hear" started and narrated by chris rock. a tv station in shreveport, louisiana, ktbs, fired a meteorologist named rhonda lee after she defended her short, natural hairstyle on facebook. in october, of your name to emmitt vascocu, wrote on the station's page -- >> rhonda lee responded to the
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comment at length on facebook thread saying -- rhonda lee was fired by ktbs late last month from the station claiming she repeatedly violated company policy about responding to criticism from the words. we invited a representative from ktbs to join us on the show. they declined. instead it provided us with the following recording. >> unfortunately, television personalities have long been the subject of harsh criticism and negative your comments about their performance. it is harsh your comments
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posted on the official website, there is a specific procedure to follow. ms. rhonda lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences, if her behavior continued. rhonda lee was not dismissed for her parents were defending her parents. she was fired for continuing to violate company procedure. >> we're joined now by videostream, rhonda lee herself. can you respond to your boss house at the tv station and tell us about why he responded to the critics on facebook? again, rhonda lee, former meteorologist for ktbs in shreveport, louisiana of . >> there really is no policy. we received the memo that our general manager -- he says and
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august crude and will be honest, i don't recall seeing a particular memo. i have been locked out of the email system since i was terminated. i have only responded to to facebook posts that were not related to the weather. i'm not clear where multiple times ever came into play. i will be honest, there have been so few criticisms of what i did, it really is difficult for me to respond to criticism. it seems like a lot of people, more so, siding with my plight than i ever would have dreamed, frankly. it has been such a wild ride and i appreciate all of those reports from people coming back with inspiring messages and things like that. to say there was a policy in place -- there really is not, even to this day. to me when i said was a message that needed to get out. black female hair has always
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been a point of contention since probably biblical times. unfortunately, we have not moved quite where i think we should be as far as the level of beauty that is displayed and compared to with african-american women's hair. and i think we're making in poor strides today despite my circumstance. >> i want turn back to ktbs, its official statement read the station maintains you and another white male reporter were fired over violations of station policy about posting on facebook not because of your hair. >> never 282012, ktbs dismissed two employees for repeated violations of the stations written procedures. we can confirm that rhonda lee was one of the employees. another employee was a white male reporter who was an a-year veteran of the station. the policy they violated provided specific procedure for responding to your comments on the official facebook page.
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on august 30, 2012, and e-mail was sent to all news department employees informing them of this procedure. this procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country. >> i would like to get your response. also, what they told you when they called you and to notify you that they were letting you go? >> what i was told what initially was that i was going to be able to have a meeting with the voice you heard there, my direct supervisor, news director randy payne. and this was right after i posted the other message about the three minute smile with a little kids. before that, i guess it would be in november with the three minute smile facebook post, i said i was very confused as to what it is i am supposed to be doing. we recently had received an
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email from the person who helps monitor the facebook page single should they be tried to start to monitor the page a little bit better. there have been viewer questions and if he can answer something, going to do something. i told my supervisor this for the time to reply, then i get any not on the other. tamiami of clarity? he said, you are right, this is rather ambiguous. that's called george, the general manager you just heard, and get some clarity. i said, great, and if i can help form a policy, i would do it. fast for about two weeks later, i was called in on my day off and told we were one to talk about baseball. i thought, well, i don't know why it cannot wait until i come in to mark, but fine. then i was fired. the second conversation never happen. that is why it is very frustrating. i was also told in his second
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meeting the following friday to try to get my job back, i was told by our general manager, the voice you just heard, that he did not find the messages to be all that racist anyway. he did not see a problem with it, so that is why he is sticking to his guns and was not one to rehire me back. >> can you talk about the november 14 incident in which a viewer objected to a segment called "3 minutes smile"? >> the 3 minute smile is a contest that we have and have had for a couple of years, randomly selected kids from the kennedy center on our website and are selected and to run through what for three minutes and grab all the toys they can read this year all of the kids were african-american. the viewer took issue with that and felt the fix was in in the contest itself was racist. of course -- he said he wanted
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to see the kids happy, but he felt perhaps it could have been less black, if you will. there should have been other races involved. i responded by saying the kids are selected at random. and if he really just wanted to see the kids happy, he had a funny way of showing it and told him "happy holidays." that was the last i heard about it. the message itself was on our facebook page for about -- for over a day. my response was up for about an hour-and-a-half before i was called in. my manager said, why do you feel you need to engage? i said, if we don't engage, we are endorsing. by not saying anything, we're saying it is ok to beat up on black kids. i said i don't think that is an image we want to portray in the community. >> what has been the response to
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your firing, rhonda lee, as you gain more and more national attention? >> i think it has been a blessing in disguise, for certain. i really had no idea this story would go all around the globe. i still continue to be overwhelmed and grateful for the support. the first day after the story broke, it was phenomenal. i went on to my fan page and had maybe 600 "likes" and that is said new fans, 800 and something. i said, that cannot be right. then suddenly i had 1000 fans, then 2000 fans, then 5000. i think i am up to 7000 now. this support has been overwhelming. i did not expected to go any further than texarkana, maybe into dallas a couple of hours away. it has opened eyes, most
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importantly. i feel perhaps this is what it was supposed to do. i really thought it was a labor dispute, but it turned into something bigger than myself, i feel. it has become a good talking point and a good catalyst for perhaps moving the conversation of black women and our hair forward into the 21st century and beyond. >> as a former meteorologist for ktbs, what is your forecast? do you think they will offer you your job back? have you been offered other jobs? >> i will let that my job back. i maintain even to this day i had a great work environment. i loved what i did, by co- workers. i had i had any other job offers as of yet. right now i'm just going to try to get to the holidays and see what happens. like i said, more than anything, i hope the conversation for the race issue, particularly here in
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the south, is spurred a little further than i think it has been. my forecast is looking pretty sunny, i think. >> rhonda lee, thank you for being with this, former meteorologist for ktbs in shreveport, louisiana, recently fired for responding to facebook comments, including one that criticized her hair. when we come back, new york times pulitzer prize-winning reporter david barstow on walmart bribes. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> we turn now to an exposé on the massive bribery scandal behind wal-mart's expansion into
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mexico, where the corporate giant now operates in one of five of its stores. >> in mexico, and a lover tell a bribery by one of the world's largest corporations, walmart. >> and never imagined i was opposing such a superpower. >> in april, the new york times revealed how walmart leaders hushed up evidence of widespread bribery by the largest subsidiary, walmart. now the times examines the bribes behind wal-mart's most controversial store in mexico, a supermarket built in the shadow of a revered cultural landmark, the ancient pyramids of teotihuacán. residents would fight for months to stop the stores construction, protests and hunger strikes pleading with walmart not to desecrate their heritage. >> i said, we have to stop this because no one can conquer teotihuacán.
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>> but evidence unearthed by the times shows walmart concord teotihuacán with more than $200,000 in bribes. payoffs were not authorized to buy an altered the zoning map and compliant mairead when wal- mart's leaders in the u.s. were confronted with incredible evidence, they did nothing to alert authorities. >> let me be clear, acting with integrity is not a negotiable part of this business. >> the new york times reports comes after walmart executives in the u.s. fell to fully investigate the corruption after is brought to their attention. now the u.s. justice department is considering whether walmart violated the foreign corrupt practices act, which makes it a crime for american corporations to bribe foreign officials. >> for more we're joined by the pulitzer prize-winning new york times reporter who broke the story, david barstow. he first detailed in april how
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"walmart hushed up a vast mexican bribery case." the times visited dozens of mexican towns and cities to document the payoffs the company used to get its way. david barstow, welcome to "democracy now!" lay out the story for us from april when you wrote your first piece. >> the first piece i wrote examined the concept, especially, of the leaders of walmart in bentonville. >> arkansas. >> an arkansas. when they're confronted in late 2005, someone who had been a lawyer for operations in mexico, a lawyer who had been in charge of getting all permits to build new wal-mart's in mexico, approached the company and laid out is really extraordinary story about how walmart de mexico had been routinely
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resorting to bribery in order to basically speed up and obtain permits, licenses, the zoning approvals on a fairly massive scale all across the country. and with a very specific strategic purpose, which was to accelerate walmart's growth in mexico. for those who don't know, walmart 20 years ago was not much of a presence in mexico. today, it is hard to overstate how thoroughly they dominate commerce in mexico. it is more than just the sam's clubs and the walmart's ec in the united states. it is department stores, restaurants, banks. >> one in five stores in mexico and the largest private employer and mexico. one in five stores of walmart's anywhere worldwide are in mexico. >> yes, over 221,000 employees. they have done this in a
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remarkably brief period of time. when this lawyer stepped forward and started laying out this information to walmart's top executives and lawyers in bentonville, arkansas in 2005, walmart initially took this traditional steps you would expect from a major corporation confronted with allegations of this sort. they immediately called for an internal investigation. they sent investigators to mexico city. they began digging through the auditing trail and internal sort of pay records to see whether or nine what this man had told them had merit or not. before too long, the investigators came back and said, you know what? it looks like there is something here. in fact, they wrote in a report that was sent to the very top
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walmart executives, there is reasonable suspicion to believe laws have been violated in mexico and the united states. what you're really referring to was the foreign corrupt practices act, which is the federal law that makes it a crime for u.s. companies to pay bribes to officials in foreign countries. but that is where the story starts getting unusual. that is what we focused on in april. rather than acting on the advice of their investigators, some of whom were basically former veteran fbi agents, instead they took the really unusual step of taking the internal investigation away from these experienced veteran criminal avesta gators in the united states, and handed it off to the man who at the time was the general counsel of walmart de mexico.
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that was extraordinary because the same gentleman had been identified as being one of the key participants and overseers of his reverie scheme. you're basically handing the case to investigate to some who is one of your prime suspects. that meant quickly wrote a report exonerating all of walmart de mexico and that was the end of the internal investigation. because of that decision in 2006 by walmart, which meant they never notified the justice department, never notified mexican authorities, basic questions about the nature of what the region on the ground in mexico, the impact, the extent -- those questions were never asked, never answered. so what we have done for most of this year is we have tried to basically pick up and tried answer those questions. that has involved traveling
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broadly throughout mexico, containing tens of thousands of pages of records about every permit that walmart obtained in mexico for a number of stores that we focused on, and involved basically penetrating inside walmart and obtaining hundreds and hundreds of documents of their own internal investigation, their own financial records. the story we published this week, finally, it is our attempt to answer this final question, was this a company that was effectively in spirit in a corrupt culture or the only way to build stores was to pay bribes? or was this something else? >> i want to ask you specifically about that. i found it fascinating. sometimes the new york times investigations are extremely long, this was long, but i read the whole thing because it was a fascinating. what amazed me in this
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particular story is how you were able to identify fraud that occurred, that even some of the local government officials were not aware had occurred. for instance, in the rezoning of this alfalfa field where walmart wanted to build a new store right outside of the teotihuacán. >> the city of -- >> that you discovered even the local officials were not aware how last minute changes were made in what they thought the zoning plans they had approved versus what was actually filed. again, because of bribes passed through the officials. >> it is certainly a tragedy in mexico the government investigations often don't go very deep. in this store that we focused on
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this week, which described is in this village barely a mile from this revered cultural landmark, the beautiful pyramids' that have been the release since the time of christ. the amazing thing about this community, this town has spent a couple of years seriously going through and try to figure out what was the correct the zoning scheme for the town. much like any town. we're all familiar in the u.s., zoning plans and meetings. this community have gone through this process. they set a couple of basic goals for themselves. one was the wanted to protect the area around the pyramids from development because that is the sort of thing that draws tourists to their community. they also have a lot of feeling for the parents themselves. they also wanted to protect the main entrance to the town, which
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is chronically congested with traffic. they wanted to try to do something about that as well. they adopted this zoning map that specifically said this alfalfa field that walmart had already targeted, this place they wanted to put a supermarket, they specifically adopted a matter that said, no, only houses can be built here. you cannot do in a commercial development. what we discovered three months and months of work in the archives and various agencies in mexico, we found the evidence that supported the internal documents we already had on our hands from walmart that showed that map, that field wal-mart's solution was to pay a bribe and have a man go in and change the zoning for just that field -- no where else -- so after the change was made, suddenly, they were allowed to build a supermarket. it is that kind of thing -- and
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that is the kind of thing we saw over and over and over again in mexico. there was a brazeness and creativity and aggressiveness to what walmart was doing in order to build stores. >> you're right, david barstow, none of the walmart de mexico leaders were disciplined. its chief executive, identified as the driving force behind years of bribery, was promoted to vice chairman of walmart in 2008. and to your article, the allegations and walmart's investigation had never been publicly disclosed. >> that is true. in bordeaux castro had been brought into mexico -- one thing important is that at the moment and think about in this case, and this time, 2004, 2005,
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walmart had been hitting kind of a plateau in the u.s., having a difficult time achieving the kind of unbelievable growth it had seen in decades prior. it pointed an awful lot -- when it would talk to wall street, there frequently pointed to mexico as this is an example of where our future lies in growth in foreign markets. mexico was walmart's first foreign market. today there in 27 foreign markets, including brazil, india, china, and a number of other countries around the world. they focused in terms of their growth strategy -- >> we have 10 seconds. >> that focused mainly on growth in foreign markets. some mexico was central to walmart's story about its own growth. >> david barstow, we will do part 2 and play it on
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